What is Range of Motion and Why Is it So Important (2022)


What is Range of Motion and Why Is it So Important (1)Range of motion (ROM) means how far and in what direction you can move a joint or muscle. Although joint and muscle flexibility varies for each person, researchers have determined numerical values for the “normal” range of motion. For example, according to experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a normal knee joint can flex between 133 and 153 degrees, depending on age and gender.

(Video) Range of Motion - What It Is, Why It's Important, How To Improve It

The CDC study examined over 600 people of various ages and genders with no known joint mobility problems to establish reference values for the normal range of motion of the body’s five main joints. If your range of motion is below the established norm, you have some degree of limited ROM.

Although aging can cause a natural decline in ROM, there are many other reasons joint mobility may be compromised.

Range of Motion May Be Limited or Decline for Many Reasons

Sports or other injuries, surgery, joint dislocation, infection in the joint, pain, and swelling around the joint often restrict the range of motion in the affected area. Other conditions that may affect the range of motion include but are not limited to the following.

  • Arthritis, including osteoarthritis, adult or juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Volkmann contracture (injury to muscles of the forearm, causing muscles to shorten)
  • Dupuytren’s contracture (thickening of the tissue layer under the skin of the hands and wrist)
  • Congenital torticollis (tight, short neck muscle)
  • Stroke or brain injury

Range of Motion Measurements

Physical therapists (PT) routinely measure your range of motion when you begin a physical therapy program and take new measurements throughout the program to chart improvements. Using a goniometer, your physical therapist measures three types of range of motion: active, passive, and active-assistive.

Active Range of Motion (AROM)

You perform an active range of motion without assistance by using your muscles to move the desired body part. During AROM, you actively engage your muscles to contract and relax as they move around a joint. Performing strengthening exercises is an example of AROM.

Passive Range of Motion (PROM)

During passive range of motion, an outside force, like your physical therapist, moves your joint through its maximum capacity with no assistance from you. Your PT may perform PROM manually or use a continuous passive motion (CPM) machine.

(Video) Partial Range Of Motion: Broscience Or Legit?

PTs often use PROM during the early stages of recovery from an injury or surgery. PROM also helps prevent contractures, pressure sores, or spasticity if you cannot move your limbs on your own for any reason.

Active-Assistive Range of Motion (AAROM)

If you can move a recovering body part but need assistance to protect it from injury as it heals, your physical therapist may use active-assistive range of motion. AAROM may be performed hands-on by your physical therapist or by a machine. Active-assistive ROM helps you build flexibility and strength as you heal.

Your physical therapist decides which range of motion exercise or combination of approaches is most appropriate for your condition. For example, suppose you are recovering from an injury, healing from a surgical procedure, or struggling with a chronic pain condition like arthritis. In that case, your PT may begin with PROM, then to AAROM, and, as you gain strength, flexibility, and your pain decreases, to AROM.

Why Does Your Range of Motion Matter?

Range of motion and flexibility are essential to your body’s functional mobility. Bones, ligaments, muscles, and tendons support each joint in your body, enabling it to move within a specific range. With a good range of motion, your joints move easily and comfortably, your torso and limbs function efficiently, your risk of injury decreases, and you enjoy a higher quality of life.

If you have limited ROM in one or more joints, your body may compensate by placing stress on other joints or muscles, resulting in muscle imbalance and improper body alignment. Poor alignment and muscle imbalance present a greater risk of injury and pain and reduce functional mobility. Limited range of motion can also contribute to mental health issues, including depression.

Your physical therapist can design a ROM exercise and stretching program to help you recover from or avoid a frozen joint.

(Video) Full Range of Motion VS. Partial Range of Motion | Educational Video | Biolayne

Multiple studies have concluded that correctly executed range of motion exercises can help:

  • Improve strength and flexibility
  • Reduce pain and discomfort
  • Improve circulation
  • Lessen stiffness
  • Reduce the risk of reinjury
  • Improve mood

A study of stroke survivors in long-term care found range of motion exercises significantly improved “joint angles, activity function, perception of pain and depressive symptoms.”

In another study, stroke patients participated in a four-week range of motion exercise program. Results at the end of the study noted significant improvements in the exercise group when compared to the control group, including:

  • Decreased edema of upper extremities
  • Increase in range of motion
  • Improved function of upper extremities
  • Increased ability to perform activities of daily living

A systemic review of controlled trials studying the benefits of exercise after knee arthroplasty concluded that outpatient physical therapy after surgery should include “strengthening and intensive functional exercises” supervised by a licensed physical therapist.

Contractures, Contracture Deformities, and Frozen Shoulder

Several conditions can lead to severe limitations in range of motion, including adhesive capsulitis and contractures.

Adhesive capsulitis, better known as frozen joint syndrome or frozen shoulder, may result when scar tissue or inflammation around a joint restricts movement. Adhesive capsulitis most often affects the shoulder but may affect the knee or hip joint.

(Video) Full Range Of Motion Is Important For Size, Strength & Injury Prevention

Experts believe a frozen shoulder may result from a long period of immobilization of the joint because of surgery, rotator cuff injury, fractured arm, or stroke. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic also warn some diseases increase the risk of frozen shoulder, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Tuberculosis
  • Parkinson’s disease

Contractures develop when skin, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and other tissues around a joint lose elasticity, causing pain and preventing normal movement. A contracture deformity happens when the joint locks permanently into one position.

According to MedlinePlus, contracture can be caused by:

  • Brain and nervous system disorders, such as cerebral palsy or stroke
  • Inherited diseases (such as muscular dystrophy)
  • Nerve damage
  • Reduced use of the joint
  • Severe muscle and bone injuries
  • Scarring after traumatic injury or burns

Range of motion exercises is critical to improve and maintain function in the joint and prevent contracture deformity. Studies find physical therapy and occupational therapy, casting or splinting to stretch tissues, use of a continuous passive motion machine, and medication, if appropriate, are effective approaches to relieving constriction of a joint.

How Physical Therapy Helps Improve Your Range of Motion

A healthy range of motion enables you to move through your life comfortably, independently, and productively. Restricted movement in any part of your body impacts your quality of life and increases your risk of pain, injury, and limited mobility.

At MOTION, we work every day with patients to increase their range of motion and every facet of their health. Your MOTION physical therapist will design a program tailored to your needs, which may include exercises, stretching, neuro-muscular reeducation, hands-on techniques, and other modalities to help:

(Video) Why gaining a full range of motion is important

  • Improve mobility and strength of a specific joint
  • Promote healing of soft tissue and joint lesions
  • Reduce the risk of contracture formation
  • Decrease pain
  • Improve overall fitness and mobility
  • Increase independence

Exercise and stretching also trigger the body to produce more synovial fluid, which helps strengthen muscles, maintain tendon flexibility, and keep cartilage healthy.

Our mission at MOTION is to get you back to what moves you as quickly as possible. Our dedicated physical therapy team is uncompromising in their pledge to improve your mobility and help you overcome pain and any other limitations preventing you from living the life you deserve.

Contact us today to learn how we can help improve your range of motion and your overall well-being.


Why is it important to increase range of motion? ›

Importance of Improving Range of Motion

"Improving range of motion allows for the muscles in question to work at longer lengths, which in turn allows you to build better strength and likely result in feelings of less tension.

Why is it important to measure ROM? ›

Range of motion, also known as ROM, is a measure of flexibility involving ligaments, tendons, muscles, bones, and joints, so testing for ROM is essential in determining fitness and in assessing possible damage.

What does range of motion tell us? ›

Range of motion (ROM) refers to how far you can move or stretch a part of your body, such as a joint or a muscle.

Is full range of motion necessary? ›

Using a full range of motion when exercising is very important for developing and maintaining good flexibility. In addition, a full range of motion activates more muscle groups and enhances the overall effectiveness of certain exercises.

What does range of motion prevent? ›

Therapeutic Exercises

ROM is essential in preventing loss of mobility and in optimizing return of function for patients. It is essential for patients to perform ROM exercises early to prevent development of contractures.

What are the 3 types of range of motion? ›

There are three types of ROM exercises: passive, active, and active-assistive ROM. Passive range of motion is that which is achieved by some outside force, such as a massage or a physical therapist creating the movements.

What are the 4 types of range of motion? ›

  • How Is Range of Motion Measured?
  • Passive Range of Motion.
  • Active-Assistive Range of Motion.
  • Active Range of Motion.
Oct 10, 2022

Which type of exercise will improve a person's range of motion? ›

To combat muscle inflexibility, static stretching is recommended. Benefits of static stretching include enhanced range of motion, stronger joints, better physical performance while playing sports and a decrease in pain throughout the body.

What affects range of motion around a joint? ›

Typically, the more stable the joint is, the less is its range of motion and vice versa. Aging is another factor that influences motion due to decreased fluid, thinning of cartilage, shortening of ligaments, and loss of flexibility.

How can I increase my active range of motion? ›

How To Do Active Range of Motion Exercises
  1. Ankle Pops. Lie flat, and just flex and extend your ankles. ...
  2. Heel Slides. Lie flat, slide your heel back to raise your knee then slide the heel back down. ...
  3. Abduction Adduction of Hips. Lie flat and keep your leg straight, with your heel flexed. ...
  4. Long Arc Quads.
Oct 12, 2016

Does full range of motion build muscle? ›

The studies generally show that training with a full ROM produces similar or greater increases in muscle size than training with partial ROM.

What is good range of motion for knee? ›

A fully bent knee will max out at about a full range of motion of 135° degrees of flexion. As a general rule, a knee flexion of about 125° will allow you to carry out most normal activities. For daily living, a minimum flexion of around 105°-110° is required.

What causes poor flexibility? ›

Many variables affect the loss of normal joint flexibility including injury, inactivity or a lack of stretching. The range of motion will be influenced by the mobility of the soft tissues that surround the joint. These soft tissues include: muscles, ligaments, tendons, joint capsules, and skin.

What factors affect ROM? ›

Terms in this set (8)
  • Structure or shape of the articulating bones.
  • Strength and tension (tautness) of the joint ligaments.
  • Arrangement and tension of the muscles.
  • Contact of soft parts.
  • Hormones.
  • Disuse.

How long does it take to improve range of motion? ›

You should begin to notice a difference in how flexible you are within two to four weeks. However, that's only if you practice stretching at least five days every week. You also want to practice an array of stretches so that your whole body feels the burn.

Who needs range of motions? ›

One of the major benefits of ROM therapy for those users confined to wheelchairs is the daily movement of their limbs. This movement helps circulate the blood to extremities helping reduce the risks of blood clots, sores, and muscle tone reduction.

What is another word for range of motion? ›

Range of motion (or ROM), is the linear or angular distance that a moving object may normally travel while properly attached to another. It is also called range of travel (or ROT), particularly when talking about mechanical devices and in mechanical engineering fields.

How can I measure my range of motion at home? ›

How to measure knee ROM at home ALONE - Tools, Tips, and Tricks

How often should you do range of motion exercises? ›

Range-of-motion exercises should be done at least twice a day. During the bath is one appropriate time. The warm bath water relaxes the muscles and decreases spasticity of the joints.

What is normal ROM? ›

There is also a small amount of rotation at the knee, typically measured when the knee is bent. Normal active knee range of motion is: Knee Flexion ROM: 135o i.e. fully bent. Knee Extension ROM: 0o i.e. fully straight.

Is range of motion the same as flexibility? ›

Range of motion is the available amount of movement of a joint, whereas flexibility is the ability of soft tissue structures, such as muscle, tendon, and connective tissue, to elongate through the available range of joint motion.

How do you perform a ROM? ›

Never move a joint beyond its free ROM. Move it to the point of resistance and stop when the patient feels pain. If muscle spasms are present, slowly move the joint to the point of resistance, then apply gentle, steady pressure until the muscle relaxes and continue the motion to the joint's final point of resistance.

What is increase range of motion? ›

Increased range of movement involves allowing a joint or muscle move and extend to its full range. A variety of massage types including deep tissue massage, remedial massage and therapeutic massage can be used to increase range of movement.

Why is range of motion important for athletes? ›

An imbalance in range of motion can lead to overcompensation of one joint and body misalignment – the critical ingredients in the recipe for injury.

Why is it important to be at your the range during fitness training? ›

If your heart rate is too rapid to count, your exercise intensity is too much. Slowing down will help your fitness level. Your body is stressed when it's overexerted, which leads to dehydration, dizziness and potential sickness. In fact, you won't gain much from the workout except for possible injuries.

What affects range of motion? ›

This motion is influenced by several structures: configuration of bone surfaces within the joint, joint capsule, ligaments, tendons, and muscles acting on the joint.

Does range of motion decrease with age? ›

Joint range of movement (ROM) decreases with increasing age. Passive and active ROM both decrease however often the active ROM reduces more than the passive ROM.

Is full range of motion better for muscle growth? ›

The studies generally show that training with a full ROM produces similar or greater increases in muscle size than training with partial ROM.

How do you train range of motion? ›

Lean into your fitness routine with these training tips to reach a full range of motion and get the most out of every movement while staying safe.
  1. Push-Ups. Targets: chest, shoulders. ...
  2. Biceps Curls. Targets: biceps, deltoids. ...
  3. Steps-Ups. Targets: quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes. ...
  4. Bent-Over Dumbbell Rows. ...
  5. Oblique Twist. ...
  6. Bench Press.

What is a good resting heart rate for a 70 year old woman? ›

The normal resting heart rate for adults over the age of 10 years, including older adults, is between 60 and 100 beats per minute (bpm).

Why it is important to prepare your mind and body before doing physical activity? ›

Preparing the body for exercise can help reduce the risk of injury, gradually increases the heart rate, and may help reduce muscle soreness. A good way to warm up is by doing the intended activity at a slower pace and lower intensity.

What is a good resting heart rate by age? ›

Normal Heart Rate by Age Chart
AgeNormal Resting Heart Rate
Children 5 to 6 years old75 to 115 bpm
Children 7 to 9 years old70 to 110 bpm
Children 10 years and older and adults (including seniors)60 to 100 bpm
Athletes in top condition40 to 60 bpm
4 more rows
5 days ago


1. The importance of getting a full range of motion
(Plunkett Fitness Personal Training)
2. RANGE OF MOTION (ROM): Why You Need To Use It Or Lose It?
(Got ROM)
3. Why Full Range Of Motion For Me Is More Important | Mike O'Hearn
(Mike O'Hearn)
4. Full vs Partial Range of Motion
(Flow High Performance)
5. Passive Range Of Motion - How to Stretch Your Own Arm After Stroke
(Work Your M.O.T.O.R.)
6. The Importance of Range of Motion Examinations according to MAT®
(Greg Roskopf's Muscle Activation Techniques)

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